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Money Matters Blog

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

How to Make Meals at Home Easier (and Cheaper!)

With many Americans tightening their budgets and working to stay healthy with COVID-19, meals out and restaurant purchases have become one of the first things to go. While meals at home can save hundreds of dollars a month, the switch over can feel overbearing. Grocery shopping, meal planning, prep-time, and long cooking times often feel daunting.

To ease your mind, we’ve compiled some of our favorite tips and tricks to making meals at home even easier—and cheaper to boot!

1.     Meal Plan Early

When work is done for the day, the last thing you want to do is have to think about what to feed the family. Planning your meals by the week (or month) can save your sanity more than you would believe. It can be as easy as jotting down meal ideas for the week on a piece of paper, or as creative as having a designated whiteboard calendar in your kitchen to announce the weekly meals to the whole home. Whatever you choose, stick to it and make sure you’re using your plan consistently.

2.     Grocery Shop Online

Once you have your meal plan set for the week, get shopping! For many, a trip to the store can feel overwhelming and can end up with a bill twice the size it needs to be because of impulse purchases. However, many grocery stores—like Kroger—allow you to do your grocery shopping online and will then bring your purchases right up to your car when you arrive! This can save you time, but money as well! By doing your shopping at home, you can stick to your grocery list and avoid those pesky impulse buys.

3.     Prep or Make Meals Ahead

Prep or cook time can be a big hurdle to eating at home, especially for those who work odd hours or later into the evening. The best way to avoid the stress of prepping everything after a long day of work is getting your meals done ahead of time! Set aside an hour on your day off and prep your food ahead of time by chopping up veggies, washing produce, and getting any other prep work done. Or make it even easier on yourself by cooking your meals for the next couple days and popping them into microwave safe Tupperware in the fridge.

4.     Keep it Simple!

Sometimes meal prepping can feel daunting because of the pressure to make extravagant Instagram-worthy meals. Don’t get caught up in the picture-perfect-pressure. Sometimes the simplest meals are the best way to go! In between complicated meals, pop in crowd-favorite meals that are easy to make like grilled cheese and tomato soup, breakfast for diner, or a crockpot stew. You can even just do a snacking dinner of whatever is leftover in the fridge and pantry.

5.     Keep Motivated

One of the best ways to keep to your goal of eating more meals at home is to simply look at how much you’re saving. Sit down with your last month of restaurant purchases and add them all up. Now how much of that would you have saved by eating meals at home for a quarter of the cost? By even just switching from take-out for your lunches to eating meals you prepare yourself can save you at least $50 or more a week! By realizing how much money you’re saving, you can help keep yourself motivated.

 

Your Turn: What are your tips and tricks to making meals at home easy and convenient? Share them with us in the comments!

2 comments:

  1. Online food delivery helps a lot! So that we don't have to leave the house unnecessarily, we order groceries. I try not to use convenience foods, but I don't have much time to cook. So I choose simple meals from available foods. Meal preparation is never easy for me, but I try to minimize the expense and time for cooking. Maybe someday I will love to cook, but not now.

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  2. We love using the crock pot. Stews, chili, soups, roasts all provide the additional benefit of left-over meals which are a bonus for use later in the same week. Or freeze the left-overs if you don't like eating the same meal twice in one week. :-)

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